“You can do anything you want to do, if you know what to do.” Betty Carter
“Because jazz doesn’t make money quickly, a lot of people in power are not encouraging young people to really use the word `jazz.’ For a person who’s been out here as long as I have, they’re pretty much sick of me because I just won’t go away. I’m not going away, see,that’s what probably bothers a lot of people. Betty Carter
Lat week, I introduced The Greatest Ladies of Jazz series and promised that, over the next several Saturdays, I’ll share songs from some of the best female jazz voices we have enjoyed over the years. As I mentioned last week, women have contributed an impressive and diverse body of work to the soulful sounds of Jazz music, and their sounds have influenced many other popular artists. Each week, I’ll share between 8-10 of the greatest female jazz vocalists with you. You may read more on on them on Wikipedia. Today, we meet 10 more jazz divas.
Affectionately called The Grandmother of Jazz, Betty Carter, has thrilled and entertained many with her unique brand of jazz for years. Born Lillie Mae Jones, she worked with the Lionel Hampton Band, created her own record label Bet-Car Records, in 1969, when she couldn’t find a mainstream outlet, and performed all over the world. She won numerous awards including the National Medal of Arts. President Bill Clinton once said, “Hearing her sing ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside‘ makes you want to curl up in front of the fire, even in summertime.”
Abbey Lincoln, was born Anna Marie Wooldridge and was a jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress who was active in the Civil Rights movement through her music. A famous song was “We Insist! — Freedom Now Suite” (1960) with drummer Max Roach, whom Lincoln married from 1962 to 1970. She was also known as Aminata Moseka.
“Don’t be afraid to feel as angry or as loving as you can, because when you feel nothing, it’s just death.” Lena Horne
Lena Horne started her career at the legendary Cotton Club at 16, and soon moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. Her political activities got her blacklisted and made her return to singing. Over time, her nightclub act grew and so did her fans. She won a Tony for her one woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, and a Grammy at age 79.
Nicknamed “Deedles”, and blinded at birth due to retinopathy of prematurity, Diane Schuur began performing as a child in suburban Seattle, Washington and had her first public show at age 10. She got a break when Stan Getz heard her sing Amazing Grace and invited her to join his band. Over the years, she recorded many albums and won two Grammys. With about 20 albums under her belt, she continues to perform in venues around the country.
“I’ll keep working as long as I live because singing has taken on the feeling of joy that I had when I started, when my only responsibility was to sing well.” Rosemary Clooney
Rosemary Clooney was a singer and actress who began her career singing duets on the radio and in big bands with her sister, Betty. She became a solo star and performed with many of the great singers from the 1950s. Rosemary also starred in TV and films and married Jose Ferrer with whom she had five children. Because of depression and drug abuse, she struggled with her career and personal life in the 1960s. In 1977, Bing Crosby invited her to join his 50th anniversary celebrations and her singing career picked up again. Rosemary Clooney wrote two autobiographies chronicling her life and struggles; they remain popular reading today.
Peggy Lee was born Norma Deloris Egstrom and grew up in poverty in North Dakota. She had her first hit “Why Don’t You Do Right?” with Benny Goodman, and built a successful solo career in jazz and pop music. In a 60-year-long career; acting, singing and songwriting, Peggy received numerous awards. Come back later for more below!
“’This Is New’ was a beginning for me, a gentle announcement that this was where I was moving. For me as a musician, I’ve got to continue challenging myself. I’m sure at some point I’ll come back to straight-ahead jazz, but I’m feeling the need to go outside of that realm right now to enlarge my musical vocabulary.” Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater – “Song For My Father” – Live Jazz à Juan 1995 (Official)
Dee Dee Bridgewater actress/jazz singer, developed her love of jazz from her dad, Matthew Garrett. He was a trumpeter for Dinah Washington and taught other jazz stars. Dee Dee began singing rock and R & B as a teenager,and was discovered by the band director at the University of Michigan got to tour the Soviet Union. As her career flourished, she won many awards, married three times and had three children including, singer/songwriter, China Moses. She continues to tour for performances.
Cassandra Wilson, grew up in a musical family and started playing piano and guitar as a child. During her college years, she performed with R&B, funk, and pop in local nightclubs. Armed with a degree in Mass communications, She moved to New Orleans in 1981 to work at a radio station. Eventually, Cassandra moved to New York and began working with Dave Holland, Abbey Lincoln, and the M-Base collective led by Steve Coleman. She is a consummate entertainer and travels the world performing her special songs. Cassandra is married to actor Isaach de Bankolé and has a son.
“So much of what we do as artists is a combination of personal experience and imagination, and how that all creeps into your work is not so linear.” Diana Krall
Diana Krall was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada and studied classical piano. She listened to jazz at home, her parents were musicians, and fell in love with jazz when she heard Fats Waller records as a child. Performing since age 15, Diana won a scholarship to Boston’s famous Berklee College of Music. She recorded her first album in 1993 and has grown into a highly regarded international jazz pianist and singer. She is married to British singer Elvis Costello and has two sons.
Carol Sloane was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and has been singing professionally since the age of 14.In her early years, she worked with Les and Larry Elgart’s orchestra and Jon Hendricks chose her to sub for Annie Ross of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. During tough times, she worked as a secretary in North Carolina and performed sporadically in the South. Her career picked up again in the 70s and she has since built a following in Japan. She is married and lives in Stoneham, Massachusetts.
Stay Inspired! What are your thoughts? What music are you listening to this weekend? Do you have any favorites you’d like to share? Which new voices would you recommend? Do share! Thank you.
*Please bear with me as I continue to catch up on your blogs and commenting… Thank you all for your patience!
Positive Motivation Tip: Music soothes all the hard and soft places in our lives and feeds our soul… Celebrate soulful sounds.
- Soulful Voices: The Greatest Ladies Of Jazz – Part 1 (eof737.wordpress.com)
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- Soulful Sounds: The Greatest Ladies Of Jazz – Part 2 (eof737.wordpress.com)
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- Six Creative Presenters Finding New Audiences For Jazz (wnyc.org)
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